Method of Learning and Student Technology Requirements

Please review the following material concerning what you need to have and what you need to be able to do in order to successfully complete our programs.

Additional  information about learning at Blue Marble University can be found in the
BMU Student Guide January 2021

Education at an Online University

Education in the virtual world is essentially a self-learning experience. We do not have buildings or offices which house professors who give lectures in large lecture halls and in some cases conduct research activities. Rather we use learned scientists and educators to help develop our course content which is then uploaded to our website for delivery to students. As a virtual university, course material is not “taught” by a professor or instructor, but rather learned by the student in a self-learning process.

Because programs are delivered in an asynchronous manner, students and faculty are not online at the same time. With students from many countries, it would not be possible for instructors and students to meet at the same times due to varying time zones and locations.

Consequently, our programs rely much more heavily on Information Technology (IT)  staff rather than on teaching faculty. We use our own pre-designed degree programs which are delivered over the internet by computer technology. Our course content as well as our degree programs are decided upon at the top with input from qualified people, rather than based on which particular faculty we have and what their individual specialties are.  Basing a curriculum on what faculty an institution has is a restrictive approach to modern education, and limits somewhat the ability to deliver innovative programs. Our programs are predesigned in order to achieve consistency which does not exist where various instructors are permitted to conduct their own courses. We require our students (and hence our student mentors and guides) to follow a specific path to ensure that the highest quality of the educational outcome is achieved.

This concentration on consistency also benefits our students in that by generally supplying only a few Instructor/mentors for a particular program, the online student can become comfortable as to what is expected, and experience less variation (sometimes radical) in teaching styles commonly experienced when subjected to a different faculty member for every course.

Method of Learning

As a virtual university, our distance learning programs are delivered online through the study of text books, video presentations and other media, and also by using the resources available on the internet, such as video lectures and video demonstrations.  Individual faculty members will determine for each course, to what extent dvd, audio and video podcasts, text material, and internet resources will be used.

The principle difference between “distance learning” and “e-learning” is that in e-learning, all activities and learning occurs on the computer. For example, all learning materials are supplied to the student, all exams and tests are provided online. In most cases of e-learning, students are required to be online at the same time as their instructors. E-learning is best suited to high school (secondary) and undergraduate curricula which remain pretty much the same over time, and is less suited to dynamic programs such as ours which change and develop.

A “distance learning” program, such as that offered here, is delivered over the internet, but the student is required to search for and find sources of knowledge. A student may be directed to a video lecture on a different website, or be required to conduct literature research via the internet. Likewise, assignments will be completed offline, and then uploaded or forwarded to the instructor by email. A “distance learning” program is asynchronous, meaning that the student and the instructor are not online at the same time. This permits us to offer programs across many time zones and allows you to access your material 24/7.

Consequently, there are no “classes”. Our Instructors serve as guides to the material to be studied. Readings in texts are assigned, and internet resources such as video lectures and research materials are liberally relied on. In addition to assigned readings, additional assigned homework is posted on the student portal from time to time. Most homework involves essay type work or reports on a topic of special importance. Ample time is allowed for the completion of assigned work and readings to allow the student maximum flexibility to budget time appropriately.

Generally, each course contains a Mid-course Exam, as well as a Final Exam. Exams do have time limits, usually 1 week, and are necessarily open-book style exams requiring the student to prepare essay style answers and/or reports. Many times, questions posed will be outside the required readings, requiring students to practice their research skills in answering a topical question. The purpose of exams is for the student to demonstrate proficiency with respect to the subject matter involved.

Some courses contain no exams at all, but rather base assessments of learning on assigned research reports and/or essays.

Your Own Private Academic Records Page

Each student will have an Academic Record Page. This is a password-protected web page created for you and retained permanently by Blue Marble University. Once you become enrolled, this page will be created for you. The password is always your date of birth in the format: MM/DD/YYYY. This page will be your go-to page for all of your studies and courses while you are in our program.
https://bluemarbleuniversity.com/student-portal-academic-record-page/

Student Online Portfolio

Some students, depending on the program,  are guided toward the assembly of an Online Portfolio, also referred to as a Digital Portfolio, which is generally a required element of most degree programs. The Online Portfolio will contain not only a resume of your course work, but also various items of independent works.  The idea is for you to create an online portfolio highlighting your achievements which can be presented to prospective employers or otherwise used by you in any fashion you wish. We believe that your creation of an Online Portfolio will give added substance to your achievements and be something you can continue to build on even after leaving our institution. The Online Portfolio is your digital resume, online identity, and online reputation.

Communications

Communications between student and instructor must necessarily be via email or other messaging systems due to time zone differences between students and faculty. Phones are not used, as being impractical.

Grading Philosophy



Exams are handled by each instructor, and in most cases, may be in the format requiring the student to discuss important principles or to conduct literature searches relating to important principles.

The purpose of issuing course grades is to generate a record of the student’s completion of a course for inclusion in the transcript. The Faculty is motivated to assist each student in successfully completing the program, rather than eliminating some students. Grades are based on individual performance and not determined by a bell shaped curve as is often the case elsewhere. Consequently, an entire class may do well. We understand that each student is typically a working adult with many time constraints. All that is required for good grades is that the student demonstrate an honest effort to learn the material. Of course, an “honest effort” goes hand in hand with the student’s demonstrated acquisition of knowledge.

For all graduate students in our Masters or Doctoral programs, a grade of “B” or better is required to pass every course. This equates to a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, or 80 out of 100 points.

(1) Technical Computer Requirements: Because we are a virtual university, it is necessary for each student to have adequate hardware and software, either personally or via study at a local library or local university/ college library, or at an internet cafe. At a minimum, your equipment must be able to run one or more of the latest web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, or Safari). Because we make use of many online videos for lectures and demonstrations, the ability to view videos that play smoothly without jerking and “buffering” delays is a must. A student should get his/her equipment organized for downloading of videos from the internet. There are many free “video downloaders” available (such as ant.com, or realplayer downloader), and the web browsers sometimes provide video downloading as a free add-on extension. So, please check into this and be sure your set up is sufficient. The ability to move large files around (such as for downloading texts and materials) is also essential and requires a fast internet connection. A dial up connection will not be effective, and we do not believe that our program can be completed with only a dial-up connection. We recommend the fastest connection you have available, which should be at least DSL or ASDL. Lastly, your software must include the ability to convert all of your work, handwritten drawings, images and so forth into PDF format for submission. Only PDF format, the international standard is permitted. Doc files are not accepted.

(2) You must be familiar with the use of email:  Because we are a foreign educational institution, all of our communications are via email. Consequently, to successfully navigate our programs, you must be able to use email effectively. There are many free email services that will permit you to register for a free email address. The most popular ones are yahoo.com, hotmail.com, and Gmail.

(3) You must be familiar with or learn how to transmit PDF files and JPEG files:  We do not accept any proprietary file types such as Windows Documents (.doc) or otherwise. Other than for email, all materials transmitted to Blue Marble University in connection with your coursework must be transmitted as a PDF file. PDF stands for “portable document format”, and is the global standard for documents. All students will be required to send their works in PDF form. There are a number of software sites where you can pick up a ‘PDF converter” which will give you the functionality to convert any of your documents into pdf form for transmittal to us. In addition, in some cases, you will need to send us some image files. Only jpeg, the global standard for images, is permitted to be transmitted. Therefore each student must be familiar with or learn how to take a photo, and how to transmit that photo to us as a jpeg image.

(4) File Names:  When transferring any type of file, please pay careful attention to file names. It is always best that a file name be in all small letters with no spaces or punctuation. For example, “samplefilename.pdf” is better than “sample file name.pdf”, the latter one may be incapable of opening on some systems.